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How Often Should You Bathe a German Shepherd?

As a German Shepherd owner, you probably know all of the joys of having one of these amazing dogs. They’re intelligent, loyal, and protective.

There are definitely a lot of positive aspects of having a German Shepherd, but being a dog owner isn’t just about the perks.  In order to keep your dog happy and healthy, there are some things involved that may not be as fun as playing fetch with Fido.

Grooming your German Shepherd could be one of those things depending on how cooperative your GSD is during the process.  In this short guide, we will give you advice on how often you should bathe a German Shepherd as well as other grooming tips.

How Often Should You Bathe A German Shepherd?

Bathing your dog is not like bathing your child.  You don’t have to bathe your dog every day. In fact, the recommended amount of bathing for a German Shepherd is once a month so you don’t strip the natural oils from its coat 1.

This is the ideal amount of bathing for your dog, but there are other factors that can come into play.  Personally, I bathe Allie once every 6-8 weeks.

German Shepherd bath time

Of course, if your dog goes outside often and gets really dirty, you may want to bathe him before he can track that dirt all over your home.  Another thing to look out for is your dog’s smell.  If your German Shepherd stinks, you definitely want to give your dog a bath.

How often you brush your dog’s fur can also have an effect on how often you have to bathe your German Shepherd.  You should brush your German Shepherd a couple of times a week.

Regular brushing is important because it prevents dirt and bugs from getting trapped in your dog’s fur, and keeps their coat looking it’s best.

How Should I Bathe My German Shepherd?

The difficulty of bathing your German Shepherd will largely depend on whether your dog is cooperative or not.  Some dogs may not like baths at first so you will be busy trying to keep them still or trying to keep them from running away from the bath.

The good news is that if you are patient and reassuring, your dog will eventually get used to it.  I found that getting Allie used to baths as a puppy helped tremendously so now I am not fighting with 70 pounds of Shepherd for every bath.

Before we get into how to bathe a German Shepherd, make sure you have the necessary tools on hand:

  • Several towels (at least 3)
  • A sponge (optional)
  • Dog shampoo (not human shampoo)
  • The actual tub/container you will be bathing your dog in
  • A non-slip mat if you are using a bathtub

Start by placing your dog in the tub/container and getting them wet with warm water. Don’t wet his/her head. You will want to do the head last. This is because dogs shake water off when their heads are wet, so unless you want to get soaked along with your dog, hold off on wetting your dog’s head2.

Apply shampoo and begin to lather your GSD all over starting from their neck and working your way down. You can either use your fingers or use a sponge if you want to really rub the shampoo in.  I just use my fingers.

Last, lather your dog’s head. Keep the shampoo out away from your dog’s eyes and ears. You could even use cotton balls in your dog’s ears to help with this.

Once you are finished, dry your dog thoroughly with the towels.

You could also use a hair dryer if it’s winter time or it’s cold.  Just make sure the hairdryer isn’t set too hot so you don’t burn your dog.

Is Dog Teeth Cleaning Necessary?

Dogs can get tarter, plaque, bad breath, and gum disease just like humans so it is important to keep your dog’s teeth clean.  Your dog’s teeth will need to be cleaned a lot more often than they will need to be bathed.

It’s recommended that you brush your dog’s teeth at least three times a week, but brushing your dog’s teeth every day would be best. You may have to work with your dog to get them comfortable with getting their teeth cleaned.

Make sure you use toothpaste for dogs, not toothpaste for humans.  Dogs’ toothpaste can safely be swallowed by dogs so you don’t have to worry about it harming them.

Try putting a tiny amount of toothpaste on each tooth before you start brushing just to relax your dog.  You may even want to let your dog sniff and/or taste the toothpaste.

Once your dog is relaxed, brush the teeth in a circular motion, making sure you brush near the gum lines. Try and be thorough but be gentle.

This is one of the things I wish I did more when Allie was a puppy.

I didn’t start regularly brushing her teeth until she was older and now it’s a struggle.  Normally, her mouth is wide open, but when the toothbrush comes out her mouth closes up like a clam.

Imagine someone trying to pry open the mouth of a German Shepherd while also trying to brush teeth, I’m sure it’s a comical sight.  Luckily, I’ve been able to reach enough of her teeth that she hasn’t had any dental issues.

How Often Should You Clip Dog’s Nails?

Grooming white GSD

How often you need to clip your dog’s nails will be determined by your dog’s lifestyle. For example, if your dog runs on a lot of pavement, gravel, or rock, your dog may grind his nails down enough naturally so that they don’t need to be clipped very often.

In general, you should check your dog’s nails at least once per week. Handle any broken or split nails immediately. You will want to use a dog nail clipper (not human nail clippers).

Be careful not to cut the quick in your dog’s nails because your dog will start bleeding and it could be painful.

*Check out my full article on the best nail clippers for German Shepherds to learn more.

How Should I Clean My Dog’s Ears?

Cleaning a dog’s ears is probably the simplest part of the grooming routine.  Your German Shepherd’s ears should be cleaned at least once a week.

You can buy special ear wax drops from your vet. Put a few drops of these in your dog’s ear and it will dissolve the excess wax. Your dog will shake out the remaining liquid by shaking its head.

You can use a cloth to clean the area outside of your dog’s ear, but never put anything inside of your dog’s ear beside the drops.

Don’t use water in the place of the ear drops.  Water won’t get rid of the ear wax.  It will just sit in your dog’s ear and could create an infection.  The ear drops are specially formulated to keep your dog’s ears dry.

Final Thoughts

Keeping your German Shepherd properly groomed goes a long way in keeping your dog healthy. A healthy dog is a happy dog!

If you are ever in doubt about grooming your dog, you can seek out professional help.  There are many great dog groomers available and your vet can also give you good tips.

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